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Exploratour - Evolution of the Solar System, page 16 - Windows to the Universe

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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.

Exploratour - Evolution of the Solar System

This is a drawing which shows where the Kuiper Belt may be located.
Click on image for full size

Beyond the orbit of Pluto is a region which contains objects which look like planetismals. The objects are very small, and not very bright. It takes hundreds of years for these objects to go around the sun. Because they move so slowly,finding them is difficult. Where these objects came from and how they got there is still a mystery, but they probaby condensed with the planets as part of the original solar nebula. The region is called the Kuiper Belt, after Gerard Kuiper who first thought of it. The first object in the Kuiper Belt was discovered in 1992.

This picture shows the region of space where the Kuiper Belt is. In this picture, the observer is looking down on the solar system from above. The picture shows a region from the sun to 120 AU. The earth is so close to the center of the drawing that it does not show up.

This region is sometimes called "trans-Neptunian space" because even the planet Pluto could really be part of the Kuiper Belt.

This is page 16 of 60

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF